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Last Chance Saloon: Port FC vs. Buriram Utd, FA Cup QF Preview, 1 August 2018

 

Port’s season will likely be defined by what happens in the next two games. Wednesday’s FA Cup quarter final sees the two highest place teams left in the competition face off, meaning whoever wins will be the favourites to lift the cup. Then on Sunday, Port face the runaway league leaders knowing that if they lose, rivals Muangthong could draw level on points. The Scum won’t leapfrog Port as they have the inferior head-to-head record, but with tough away trips to Prachuap and Chiang Rai on the horizon, the third place spot that Port have occupied throughout much of the season will be well and truly up for grabs.

 

Buriram United

Players to Watch

 

In my preview of the away clash (click here) to Buriram I covered the whole Buriram lineup, so this time I’ll pick a few new signings and players who have risen to prominence since our last clash.

Osvaldo (17), a Brazilian forward with four caps for the most successful nation in world football history, was the mid-season signing who was supposed to put the league well and truly to bed. Buriram have pulled 9 points clear at the top, but that has very little to do with their new signing, who has yet to get on the scoresheet and has notched just 2 assists in 7 appearances. He’s clearly a player with some pedigree, but he’s far from the show-stopper we feared, and has yet to adapt effectively to Thai football.

 

 

Another mid-season arrival was returning forward Javier Patino (20). Buriram’s ASEAN player scored 35 goals in 54 games for The Thunder Castle between 2013 and 2015, but has struggled with injuries, playing just 4 times since his return. He has just one goal in the League Cup. He did play 20 minutes on the weekend though, so expect him to make an appearance off the bench.

 

 

This fella has been at Buriram all season, but has found himself playing a more important role of late. That role? Could be bloody anywhere. The only positions he hasn’t played have been wing back and goalie. I’m talking about Korean ‘midfielder’ Yoo Jun-soo (16), who throughout the season has played in central defence, central midfield, on the wing and up front. He’s a big unit who is very useful in the air, and has 4 goals and 7 assists to his name in all competitions. The only league game he didn’t start was the shock 0-1 defeat to Chainat.

 

 

Back in April, Buriram decided to start trolling the rest of the league. We’ve all seen teams bringing on youngsters when they’ve got a comfortable lead, but those youngsters aren’t usually sodding Mathayom 4 students. Suphanat Mueanta (54) is just 15 years old and already has 2 T1 goals to his name, although to be fair they came in a 5-0 victory against Air Force when Diogo and his big brother (the relatively prehistoric 19 year old Suphachok) were both just trying to put chances on a plate for him rather than score themselves. Still, score he did, and his international record at youth level suggests that he doesn’t always need a babysitter to find the back of the net. He’s scored 15 goals in 13 games at under 16 level and has recently been fast-tracked to the under 19s, for whom he has scored 2 in 4. Mind you, it would be cheeky even for Buriram to throw him on against Port in the PAT cauldron.

 

 

And I can’t do a players to watch segment without mentioning the divine mop, can I? He hasn’t exactly risen to prominence in the second half of the season, rather he has maintained his altitude 30 thousand fucking feet above everyone else. Diogo (40) is still the most effective striker in the league with 24 goals and 8 assists in 24 league games. Dragan Boskovic and Jaja Coelho may have usurped him as T1 top scorers last year, but you just knew he’d be back with a vengeance, and right now he has a 4 goal lead atop the scoring charts, 10 more than Port’s top-scorer Suarez. He also has 9 yellows and a red in all competitions though, which is what should interest Port defenders. The back line, and particularly hard-man Elias Dolah would do well to remember Port’s 0-0 home draw against the Thunder Castle in 2017, when Diogo received his marching orders on 70 minutes and Port almost snatched a memorable win. Annoy him, get in his face and in a rocking PAT Stadium there’s no knowing how the divine mop will react. He might score a hattrick, or he might throw his toys out of the pram. Either way, it will be entertaining.

 

 

Form

 

Erm, wins wins and more wins. Since their 1-0 loss to Chainat in mid-June Buriram have won 6 on the bounce in the league, and have been unbeaten in both cup competitions. They have had some struggles though, needing extra time to get past both Trang FC in the League Cup and Nakhonpathom United in the FA Cup. Port can only hope that these struggles have led to some fatigue, although with a bigger, stronger squad than Port they are more than capable of shuffling their pack and still putting out a team that will be favourites to win.

 

Port FC

The PAT Factor

 

Arguably, whichever team Jadet picks on Sunday, the most important influence will come from the Khlong Toei Army. T1’s best fans must make PAT Stadium hell on earth for Buriram, inspiring the boys on the pitch and bringing the worst out in their opponents. Last season’s 0-0 draw was a textbook case, when Zone B was so vocal that I barely heard the thousand plus Buriram fans on the other side of the stadium and Diogo ended up seeing red after being tilted by the boisterous Khlong Toei faithful. I’m feeling more confident than I probably should about this game, and that’s why.

Having said that, Jadet still has to not drop a clanger with his team selection. Will he stick with Sunday’s experimental 3-5-2? Maybe, but maybe not. It’s a system which seemed tailor-made to deal with Bangkok United’s exceptional midfield, but might be less effective against the champions in waiting, who have a less dangerous midfield three and rely mostly on the creative brilliance of Diogo.

If Jadet does stick with the same system, he’ll be thankful to be able to welcome Nitipong (34) back in both the league and cup, meaning that we won’t be exposed to Adisorn’s (13) god-awful attempts at attacking again anytime soon. Will Jadet stick with Kim (8), Siwakorn (16) and Anon (20) in midfield or will one of them make way for Port’s little destroyer? Over to you, Sir Det. The rest of the team really pick themselves, meaning that all Jadet has to do if we somehow take the lead again is not sub off key defensive players and bring on luxury attackers like Pakorn (7) and Bodin (10), who are fundamentally unsuited to this formation.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

This is normally where I’d tell you how to watch the game on TV and direct you towards The Sportsman if you can’t make it to PAT Stadium at 19:00, but this week there are no excuses. Be there. It’s an FA Cup Quarter Final, the biggest club in Thailand are in town and the boys are going to need our vocal support. Tarua Woi!

 

Jadet’s Big Bogey: Bangkok Utd vs Port FC Match Preview

 

After getting their season back on track against Police Tero last Saturday (albeit slightly fortuitously), Port travel to Rangsit this Sunday to face bogey team Bangkok Utd in a game with potentially huge ramifications in the race for the second AFC spot. Mano Polking’s side sit in second, just 3 points above Port after a recent dip in form. Not that form really matters in this one – Port habitually get battered by Mano’s team, having lost the home game this season 3-0 and having shipped 15 goals in 3 games against the Angels last season. My first away Port away game was at Bangkok Utd in 2015; we lost 1-0, and little did I know that that would be as good as it got.

 

The Form Guide (Last 5 T1 Games)

BANGKOK UTD: WDLLD

PORT FC: WLDWW

After a slow start, BU hit a purple patch of form and stormed up the table, topping it at one point. But their recent form has not been great, with defeats against Pattaya in the league and minnows Ranong in the League Cup proving particularly disappointing. However, they got back in the groove on Saturday with an impressive win against Chiang Rai, and on their day they’re by far the best footballing side in the division. Port, wracked by injuries & suspensions and no doubt mindful of their recent appalling record against the Angels, will not be looking forward to this one at all.

 

The Opposition

To get the lowdown on Port’s opponents this Sunday, I had a chat to one of BUFC’s few farang followers, Matt Jenkins…

How did you become a Bangkok Utd fan?

When I arrived in Bangkok 5 years ago, I was getting a fix of EPL on Saturday nights at a great time, in a good bar somewhere. But I missed the buzz of the buildup on the day, travelling to the ground, discussing with mates team selections and possible outcomes , a dodgy burger somewhere, and a read of the programme, and sticking a couple of bets on etc. I just missed ‘going’ to the football.

A mate suggested going to a game in Bangkok and I jumped at the chance – he’d been to watch Bangkok United FC play before (when they were playing at Thai Japan), so I joined him and another pal for the match… he rest is history!If I had done a bit more research, I’d have realised that Port FC was 10 mins from my home and had a big expat following. In fact even Dave Barraclough was trying to tempt me down early days. Though I’ve come to enjoy being only one of a small number of farangs that go to Bangkok United.

Tell us about Bangkok Utd’s season so far. Are you unhappy or unhappy with the way it’s gone? What would you consider to be a successful season?

Absolutely – Impossible not to be unhappy with the start to the season, breaking records for winning streaks, and playing some great football. The last few weeks have been tough, but was to be expected once the run had come to an end. Frustrating thing is, that we haven’t been ‘well beaten’ in games since then. We have just played poorly with an unbalanced / non settled side due to injuries. I think during our winning streak we made about 3 changes only to the starting line up. A successful for season for us will be holding second place now – it does feel funny that 3 weeks ago we were top of the league and in both cups, and that small blip has hurt morale. We hopefully turned the corner after the weekend, with one of the best team performances I have seen from us in a while. New players seem to be finding their feet.

Like Port, you’ve hit a bit of a slump recently. How do you account for this?

Injuries , not getting decisions our way, the week in Buriram where we went out on pens in the cup, and then lost 2-1 in the league game, in what was possibly the most biased refereeing display I have ever seen, a couple of our more creative players seemingly downing tools for a bit, playing needless passes, and pointing at others when they are the ones that need to create a bit of magic for us. Our back 4 changed more than a Nana short time hotel’s bedsheets in the last month, injuries to Mika, then suspensions for Everton, and trying to get the balance with Puttinan/Ekkachai on the left.

Which Bangkok Utd players should we be worried about?

For me , Everton has probably been our player of the season so far. Vander Luis is still very dangerous on the ball and can go past players in a flash. And depending which Dechmitr turns up, there is also a threat there. He probably put the best performance of any BUFC player I have seen this season in again Port at your place, but he’s way too inconsistent and doesn’t decide to control enough games.

Hoping our back 4 starts to get settled again soon, we looked so good and in control when they are all fit and available. We also have a keeper that will be pumped from his last game against you guys.

…and who are your weak links, if any?

Can’t tell you guys that 🙂 What I do like is that Mano brought in some good players mid season, and 100% will provide competition and cover for our weaker areas.

Most fans of other clubs have a bit of manager envy when it comes to Mano Polking. Do BU fans feel the love too?

Yup 100%. Settled, honest, communicative on Twitter with fans. His new contract couldn’t have come soon enough for me, and the club have done well to sign him on for a long term contract. For me also, the back room staff deserve a lot of credit, his team behind him are absolutely superb and engaging, and it’s that unity I think that allows Mano to focus on the team.

On the reverse, you mentioned on Twitter once that you have a bit of stadium envy when you visit Port. How hard is it to watch your team in a largely empty Thammasat? What more can your club do to get bigger crowds?

Ha…I remember writing that. That envy still applies (from a getting to the ground perspective, and the actual ground itself). Look I was probably a bit hard on Thammasat when I wrote that, we moved seats a few times, and tried different areas, and the view is better (but by no means great).
Its just too big for our fan base. I’m baffled why they open all 4 sides of the ground…putting the away fans in one of the sides (segregated) would create a better atmosphere.

I’ve been to a fair few away games this season (with some huge ground envy! Bangkok Glass & Ubon Ratchathani in particular) and we have some of the best and most loyal fans I have ever seen anywhere…we just dont have many of them. For an area the size of Rangsit/Thammasat I’m baffled as to why more people don’t attend to be honest. We do a good job on social media to promote the games and update news in both English and Thai.
The natural thing to want is a return the city, and a new ground, but we have to be realistic, attendances of 3000-4000 aren’t going to justify that.

Maybe if the club could scoop a decent EPL pre season friendly opponent it would raise some overseas following/awareness, that would hopefully trickle down to the locals.

How do you rate Port’s 2018 side? Which players are you most worried about?

You’ve crept up out of nowhere in the last few weeks, with some solid results.
I’ll be honest when we played you at your place, I wasn’t that blown away with your side, I though Terens looked good when he came on, and Nurul was clearly a good player.

But now Sergio is finding goals, and Boskovic is up against his old side, we will have some worry with your front line for sure. Will be a very different story from the last game.

Ex-BU striker Dragan Boskovic hasn’t scored as many goals for Port as he did for you guys last season. Why do you think we’re not quite getting the best out of him?

I was gutted and surprised when Boskovic left BUFC to be honest – he was so brilliant for us. He was a target man with good service, but could also create goals from nothing. He was the number 9 up there alone almost. I think he’s sharing that front line now at Port FC, and that’s become a little more difficult to adapt to perhaps? He’s always a threat, and I can 99% guarantee he’ll pop up with a goal on Sunday!

First half of the season , I looked back and thought – We got good money for him, and maybe it was his time to leave. The last few games we have played, I’ve reconsidered and actually feel he may have thrived in this current BUFC team.

Please share your recommendations for visiting fans on Sunday – pre-match food, drinks etc.

University area – so beers are limited (BYO) , the area out the front of the stadium (opposite side to the away fans) , is always good pre-game, with some decent food vendors, and drink sellers willing to sell some ice for those carried-in beers. I’ll be there on Sunday, so 100% come and say hello.

And finally, score prediction please?

Predicting a game full of goals as you try to chase us down, and we try to cement that second place. (Also depends on which colour shirt we go with)

Bangkok United. (Vander Luis, Everton, Pokklaw) 3-2 Port FC (Boskovic (no celebration) & Nurul) (Nurul’s injured, so guess that makes it 3-1! Ed)

 

Port Lineup

Injuries, suspensions and cup-related fixture congestion are forcing Jadet, never normally one to fiddle with his players (as it were), to dig deep into his squad at the moment. Saturday’s win over Police Tero saw three players making their Port debuts, and Sunday’s game could see a similarly unfamiliar lineup with Nitipong suspended, and Nurul (and possibly Dolah) still injured. Luckily though Port came through the tricky trip to Trat unscathed. Top league scorer Suarez limped off in the latter stages of the Tero win but played the full 90 minutes at Trat so will almost certainly start. Having recovered from his exhaustion (and has there ever been a less likely candidate for exhaustion at Port?) Pakorn should take his place on the right, meaning Bodin can move to the left and the Panpanpong/Kevin experiment can be consigned to the dustbin of footballing history where it belongs. The only uncertainty is in midfield – with Siwakorn and Adisorn available, will Jadet bring one or both of them back, or will he stick with Anon, who made a very impressive debut on Saturday? Adisorn started the cup win at Trat but was replaced in the second half with Anon, which proved the spark to Port’s spectacular comeback, so I suspect the youngster will keep his place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sandpit Predicts

Port are just not playing well at the moment and so, given our missing stars and our history against Bangkok Utd, I can only see more of the same this Sunday. 3-1 to BU.

 

Bangkok Utd vs Port FC, Sunday 29 July 19:00. If you can’t go to the game, or prefer watching football without the aid of a telescope, it’ll be shown on True, or you can join us at The Sportsman to watch on a big screen with beer discounts for anyone wearing a Port shirt.

 

Trat’s the Way: Trat FC vs. Port FC Preview, 25 July 2018

 

Port travel to Thailand’s eastern border this Wednesday trying to avoid another disastrous cup shock and keep their FA Cup dream alive. The game sets up very similarly to Port’s last 32 victory over PTT Rayong. Trat are also engaged in the same tight race towards the top of the T2 table, and seem likely to put league before cup, potentially resting some key players with Sunday’s clash against in-form Army United in mind. They sit just 2 points above fifth placed team Chiang Mai. Meanwhile, Port are still struggling with injuries, although with main man Sergio Suarez back in the side and the emergence of some rather useful talent in Port’s ranks last week, these worries are not as serious as they have been of late.

 

Trat FC

Players to Watch

 

Former Scummer and Thai league veteran Milan Bubalo (7) is the most eye-catching name, but it turns out that Brazilian striker Barros Tardeli (37) is the key man. Tardeli, top-scorer for Trat last season with 18, has already equalled that total in 2018, making him T2’s top scorer by a cool 5 goals. Don’t take your eyes off former T1 star Bubalo, though. After spending just shy of 2 months with Trat, he has already notched 7 goals in the league. And 4 yellow cards. Typical. Quite the forward line.

 

Barros Tardeli and Milan Bubalo

 

Behind them, Japanese midfielder Yuki Bamba (23) has 5 goals, whilst centre back and captain Hiromichi Katano (4) has many years of experience, including 2 seasons with T1 Sukhothai behind him. There are no Thai players who particularly catch the eye, although with a strong foreign spine, and under the stewardship of former Port favourite Dusit Chalermsan, Trat will be no pushovers.

 

Form

 

This lot love a goal-fest. They’ve scored 19 in their last 6 league games and conceded 12. In just 6 games! They really, really love a goal-fest. The pick of the bunch was a 7-5 victory over Kasetsart, and in total they have won three, drawn two and lost just the one: a 5-2 defeat against league leaders PTT Rayong.

 

Port FC

Options

 

Worawut (36) will probably continue in goal after playing most of Port’s cup games in both FA and League Cups, although with the stakes getting higher each round and Rattanai (17) turning in two spectacular performances in recent weeks, it could go either way.

Port will be happy to welcome Nitipong (34) back in to the fold, after stand-in right back Chakrit (9) put in a less than convincing performance in his absence. Nitipong still has two more games to sit out in the league, but is available in the cup. Dolah (4) is also returning to fitness, and although it would certainly be nice to have back in the side with certified big bastard Bubalo leading the Trat line, Todsapol (6) is surely the best option on Wednesday.

In midfield, Anon (20) announced his arrival in Khlongtoei with a picture-perfect midfield performance. Calm, solid and intelligent with and without the ball, this 20 year old is a much more technically proficient defensive midfielder than Adisorn (13), and is a less creative but more dependable option than Siwakorn (16). The Thin White Duke is likely still out with a mystery injury, meaning that Jadet will have to choose between Adisorn and Anon to partner Kim (8). With Buriram and Bangkok United coming up in the league, whoever plays against Trat is probably the one Jadet sees as less important.

Going forward, Jadet engaged in a bit of creative team selection last week by picking Kevin (97) on the left wing and dropping Panpanpong (19) in to defence in his place. After the two had stepped on eachother’s toes to 45 minutes however, normality was restored. Expect two wingers to be playing on the wings on Wednesday, with Bodin (10) a dead cert, and Terens (28) probably his most likely partner. Pakorn (7) really should be rested after his recent bout of exhaustion, with Chakrit (9) and Somprasong (14) providing alternative options. The latter, another former Leicester and OH Leuven trainee, is the dark horse by virtue of Anon’s impressive debut. Who knew that training with top flight European teams for years makes you a rather useful player?

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The TV situation for the last round was a complete disaster. An official stream was promised but it never materialized, so I ended up watching most of it on the Facebook live stream of a fan in Zone B. This time it’s apparently on True Sport 6 and True Sport HD 4 and kickoff is at 18:00. The Sportsman will show it on a big screen if you ask them, and wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount. 

 

Nitipong Selan-OFF: Air Force Central FC 3-2 Port FC

 

 

Brevity isn’t in my wheelhouse at the best of times, but today, with Super Sunday’s Double Header on the agenda, I’m going to have to give it my best shot. Sunday’s bumper ticket saw not only Port’s away trip to Air Force, but also Port Futsal Club’s trip to Kasem Bundit University scheduled one after another. The famous Port fan bus, with its’ superhero captain at the helm, was taking in both games, and despite the hefty 80 baht price tag, I thought I’d dip in to my savings for the experience. You know the bus I’m talking about: the one that could probably have solved the Waco stand-off in a couple of hours flat just by pointing its’ speakers at the Branch Davidians and hitting shuffle. Let me sum up the experience as concisely as I can.

 

Godang Stadium, greetings, ball-grabbing, music, beer, selfies, unidentifiable food, dancing, Facebook live, beer, dancing, random plane, whiskey, Kasem Bundit University.

 

 

The Futsal

And just like that we’re at Kasem Bundit University a full hour before kickoff. No sooner had we chosen a patch of grass to colonize with beer, snacks and gratuitous whistling, free tickets from the Birthday Boy Mr. Chairman were being gratefully accepted by the Port traveling faithful. Then it was up to the 12th floor and the University gymnasium where Port’s Futsal Professors wasted no time teaching the Kasem Bundit Younglings a thing or two about how top-class futsal is played.

Within a minute Port were two goals to the good, with classy Brazilian Marcos (10) and Thai national team defender Chaivat (7) pinging two long-range efforts past a pretty useless Kasem ‘keeper. Port continued controlling the game without threatening a great deal before a comedy third goal was gifted to the impressive Anukul (22). The hapless Kasem stopper came at Anukul with something more akin to airborne attempted murder than a tackle, but the Thai forward calmly evaded the pilot-in-training and passed the ball in to an empty net.

A few Kasem players and the linesman provided most of the entertainment to the traveling fans in the second half, as several pairs of glasses were routinely offered to the linesman whenever he passed the Port fans. There were a couple of good old-fashioned pantomime villains in there too, including the dangerous heavy-set Kasem number 8 and his buddy Jahja (Binks), a pasty, gangly looking fella with a shit moustache. Number 8 scored a walloping freekick, Port replied with a couple more goals and Jahja got mercilessly abused for the rest of the game. With Port 5-1 winners however, the home players were warmly welcomed by the traveling support, and Jahja even made his peace with the black-clad Port ultras. Kasem Bundit University 1-5 Port Futsal Club. Easy!

 

 

Happy Birthday was sung to Port’s generous chairman and sweaty shirts were handed out by veteran midfielder Thananchai (17) and exquisitely named new striker Keerati (9), who looks and celebrates just like former Thai national team star Leesaw. With the organizational skills of the one and only Spiderming we were quickly back on the bus and on our way to Air Force. There was more…

 

Beer, shirtlessness, music, videos, dancing, beer, karaoke, pole-dancing, u-turns, Isaan music, whiskey, selfies, Thupatemi Stadium.

 

The Football

And just like that, we arrive at Air Force with barely a couple of minutes to go before kickoff. A traveling car-boot Leo saleswoman provides the only humane alternative to the Chang piss-water favoured by the official sellers, and as beer is allowed inside, we’re straight in just as the action is getting going. It’s an even more makeshift Port XI than expected on display, with Siwakorn (16) – presumably injured – absent from the match day squad altogether. That means a long-overdue first start for Indonesian starlet Terens Puhiri (28) on the right wing, with Bodin (10) and Pakorn (7) rotating between midfield and the left wing. There was also a first league start for on-loan Thai under 23 centre half Worawut Namvech (24), and a number of new faces on the bench. Sammy Slot (11) and Somprasong (14) have made a couple of match-day squads in recent weeks without making it on to the pitch, but Anon (20), Chanayut (99) and Sarawin (48) were all included in a first team squad for the first time.

 

 

Port started pretty sluggishly, unable to impose themselves on an Air Force team short on quality but armed to the teeth with energy. Nevertheless, the opening goal did come as a shock, with a nicely crafted passing move finding diminutive Thai forward Yodsak (9) in space on the edge of the area. I’m sure even Yodsak’s biggest fan wouldn’t have expected what happened next. The forward without a goal in 20 games in 2018 cut in, looked up and bent a sublime, unstoppable finish in to the top right-hand corner. As much as anyone has to justify why they’re being picked ahead of Kayne Vincent, Yodsak most certainly did with that finish. Questions must be asked of Nitipong (34) who was MIA, and Worawut, who was too slow to close down the forward. Wait, what just happened? Air Force 1-0 Port. Bugger.

Things quickly went from bad to worse, too. Boskovic fired wide after Pakorn put a chance on a plate for him, although he was then flagged offside, but Air Force looked the more dangerous side. Speaking of danger, Nitipong then broke forward down the right, and was absolutely annihilated from behind by a savage challenge from midfielder Phichit (28). Both feet were off the ground as Phichit scissored Nitipong like a randy lesbian porn star, but the Air Enforcer was lucky to only see yellow, although clips of his ‘tackle’ could well end up on redtube. The referee somehow got it into his head that someone had to see red though, and if not the assaulter, then why not the assaulted? As Nitipong landed, legs understandably flailing, his left boot caught Phichit in the face, and the ref, making his first but certainly not his last ridiculous decision of the day, gave Port’s mild-mannered right back his marching orders, despite the protests (and by protests I mean abuse) meted out by Boskovic.

With 10 men and down a goal, things could only get better. Oh no, wait, they could definitely get worse. Former Port winger Pinyo (44) played the lead role in the next chapter in Port’s tragic tale, with his weak shot bouncing awkwardly off Rochela (22) and spinning up and over a wrong-footed Rattanai (17) and in off the post. Air Force 2-0 Port. Bastard.

Then somehow, Port started to play. Poor old Terens (28) was stuck playing 2 positions on the right hand side, with Jadet loathe to remove an attacking player and shore up the defence. He stuck to his task admirably though, and although it limited his attacking opportunities Terens did a surprisingly good job at right wing back. It was Kim with the breakthrough, though. Having stormed out of the stadium in search of beer after the second goal went in, I was just passing by a gap in the stadium as The Korean stooped to meet Pakorn’s out-swinging corner and direct it in to the bottom left corner. It wasn’t quite Southgate’s conga line, but it did the job, and Port were back in the game at the half way point. Air Force 2-1 Port. Get in!

A reinvigorated Port took just 3 minutes after the restart to draw level. What?! Don’t we have 10 men? Boskovic put 21 year old Air Force captain Sarayut (23) under pressure with some high pressing and the Buriram loanee panicked, gifting the ball to Boskovic, who showed just how he scored 38 goals last season, lofting the cheekiest of finishes over the keeper and in to the net. Air Force 2-2 Port. Class.

What happened between Port’s equalizer and the outrageous conclusion can basically be summed up like this: Great save, Rattanai! Port’s young ‘keeper has been much less busy this season than in previous years, where he would routinely make match-altering contributions, but with Port down to 10 and both sides going hell for leather, his interventions were required on several occasions. Whether it was because of the linesman failing to flag clear offsides, the referee awarding soft free kicks or Air Force actually mounting an attack on their own merit, Rattanai stood alone a couple of times to keep Port level, with the 10 men really starting to tire.

That tiredness showed in the 86th minute when Pakorn poleaxed a marauding Air Force winger on the edge of the box. You’ll notice that I said on the edge of the box, rather than in it; a detail that the referee and linesman with the help of video technology somehow still managed to miss. Air Force forward Greg Houla (19) vociferously made the completely redundant point that Pakorn’s standing leg had kicked up some turf in the area, but the leg he tackled with looked outside the box. Still, as True’s presumably poorly placed cameras couldn’t definitively overrule the referee’s decision, it stood and Houla stepped up to take the penalty.

Rattanai, not yet done with the heroics, dived to his left and sent the admittedly poor penalty back where it came from, but Houla, struggling to regain control of the ball, hacked it back towards goal. Rattanai might still have saved his second attempt was there not a flailing Kim in front of him, but his brave resistance was finally breached and Port’s unlikely comeback attempt was shot down. Air Force 3-2 Port. Done.

After the final whistle the Air Force team was booed and shooed away from the Port end with chants of “Cheat” and “You’re going down” ringing in their ears. Opposition transgressions and refereeing incompetence are much easier to forgive after a 5-1 win than a 2-3 loss. Port’s players, and Madame Pang in particular, were given a rousing sing-song and a hearty post-game cheer. It may have taken them until they were two goals and a man down, but they mounted a gutsy comeback which could easily earned them all three points on another day. With a different referee. Madame Pang also had one her finest moments on the Port bench when she came storming out of the technical area with a face like thunder looking like she wanted to scratch the linesman’s eyes out. It could have made him any less blind, that’s for sure. Ultimately she was restrained by the best-paid bodyguard in Thailand Boskovic, and was given a soothing lullaby by the Port faithful.

Yet another chance to close the gap on second placed Bangkok United squandered. You wouldn’t have guessed it from the bus ride back, though!

 

Disco lights, karaoke, beer, shirtlessness, celebration, inappropriate touching, song requests, dancing, whiskey, lap-dancing, hastily-improvised earplugs, Godang Stadium, awesomeness.

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match

It could only be Rattanai, really. Terens put in a good shift, although his final ball was pretty poor when he got the chance to go forward, Boskovic worked hard and scored an excellent goal, Adisorn (13) ran himself silly, although in one sequence of play he lost the ball and won it back on two consecutive occasions. Muppet.

 

Worrying News Update

Apparently Pakorn collapsed after the game and was taken to the hospital from what may have been exhaustion. We’re hearing that on top of Port’s already packed schedule Pakorn played some kind of match for the police between Wednesday and Sunday. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope that this kind of absurd unprofessionalism isn’t allowed to happen again. Apparently his decision making is as bad off the pitch as it is on it.

 

Dire Bats: Port FC vs. Sukhothai FC, 8 July 2018

Looks like I’m on Sukhothai duty again.

Last time Port were set to face the “Fire Bats,” I raved about this weekend’s opponents, and more specifically their foreign attacking trinity who have 27 league goals and 63 name-letters between them. Since then, my “pundits curse” has hit them where it hurts and they have sunk into the relegation zone, and are already on their third manager of the season. Thank goodness I’m not old enough to gamble.

 

Baggio Rakotonomenjanahary, Nelson Bonilla and Njiva Rakotoharimalala

 

In their previous encounter, both teams didn’t get the memo that the League Cup is irrelevant and went full throttle at each other’s throats, ending in a 4-3 victory for the home side. The game will be remembered for the amount of time wasted by the Sukhothai players as they rolled on the floor (despite being a goal down), and of course the slightly odd attempts at Spanish swearing directed at Salvadoran striker Nelson Bonilla.

Bodin Phala (10) starred in the last game in an attempt to impress Jadet and earn a starting place, and may once again get the chance to do so as Nurul (31) could potentially move into the middle to compensate for the injured Sergio Suarez (5). The Spaniard was crucial in that last game, playing through balls from deep to beat Sukhothai’s high defensive line. His eye for a pass and fluid movement are something rarely found in the Thai League, and will surely be missed in this game.

I would like to think that, given the valuable three points at stake, Sukhothai would approach the game a little more rationally, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It seems as if the provincial side have already accepted that their defense is an incurable mess, and intend to rely solely on their forwards, who appear to have the combined height of the angry white man screaming on Port’s touchline (who I am told is the goalkeeping coach, which makes the situation even funnier).

In doing my research for this game (which includes at least seven different Wikipedia pages), I came across a description of Sukhothai’s new manager, Chalermwoot Sa-ngapol, which claimed he was the “Glenn Hoddle of Thai Football.” My hopes were quickly deflated when it became apparent that the comment was a reference to his playing style and not his management, which makes me even more confused as to why Glenn Hoddle is the first man to come to mind to demonstrate a player capable of “precise passes.”

 

 

Regardless, Khun Hoddle’s CV isn’t entirely horrible. He did impressively to lead Osotspa to 7th in 2013 keep Sisaket from the drop in 2014 and 2015, but he was somehow involved with both Sisaket and Super Power Samut Prakan in their abysmal 2017 campaigns which saw them both relegated. His last managerial job was Muangthong United B’s…I mean, Udon Thani’s T3 promotion campaign.

In terms of how Port can get at Sukhothai, it seems very clear that this weekend’s visitors are lacking defensive cover. Neither of their center-backs looks particularly impressive; no surprise given that the Fire Bats have the third worst defensive record in the league. Malaysian/Australian midfielder Curran Ferns, who debuted in Sukhothai’s last visit to the PAT Stadium, was supposedly brought in to reinforce the midfield.

In fact, none of their local contingent can really be considered to have any real quality. Nelson Bonilla has won more international caps with El Salvador than all of his Thai teammates have with their nation combined, which speaks volumes at the team’s reliance on foreign players.

However, on their day, the 63-letter forward line can be devastating. 3 goals at PAT Stadium, 3 goals at the SCG, wins over Chiang Rai, Chonburi and even Buriram United – they are a side that shouldn’t be underestimated. Port will need to be on their guard if they want to continue their chase of an AFC Champions League berth, and fans should probably expect a goal-fest once again.

 


 

The match will be shown live on True4U and True Sport 2 at 19:00 on Sunday 8 July, 2018. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Everybody Loves Rayong: Port FC vs. PTT Rayong, 4 July 2018

 

After the comfortable 5-1 win over amateur minnows Thamuang FC in Port’s first FA Cup game of 2018, Port face a rather trickier assignment in the last 32. PTT Rayong sit atop T2, and have just signed a Brazilian striker who has knocked in 2 goals in his first month with the club. You might remember him, he’s called Josimar! Whilst Josi and The Oil Millionaires are looking pretty slick at the moment, having eased past Ubon Kids City (yes, really) 2-0, there are a couple of reasons they will not be relishing their trip to PAT Stadium.

Firstly, they may top T2, but securing promotion is far from a formality. Both Nongbua Pitchaya and Trat are level on points with them, with Chiang Mai just one back. For a team like PTT Rayong who have been knocking on the promotion door for years, it would seem like the cups really ought to take second priority, particularly when they’re facing one of the form teams in the country on Wednesday, while promotion rivals Trat FC pay them a visit on Saturday. Secondly, Port are at home. No one wants to play Port at home.

 

PTT Rayong

Players to Watch

 

It’s usually pretty tricky to come by good information on teams outside T1, but PTT have got a few players worthy of note.

Top of the list is of course Port’s top scorer in 2017, Josimar (77). The Brazilian who led Port’s attack last season was not without his critics, but there can be little doubt that he is a T1-standard striker. Fortunately, Port’s back line know very well what they’re up against and will be prepared for their teammate’s fired-up return to PAT Stadium. They will know a lot less about his striking partner, though. Dennis Murrillo (11) has spent some time in T1 with Chiang Rai and Osotspa, scoring 9 goals in 27 games, but has really found his feet in T2. He top-scored for The Oil Millionaires in 2017 and has 11 so far this season, and is another one Port would do well not to take lightly.

 

 

The midfield looks rather less threatening. Journeymen thirty-somethings’ to a man, including third Brazilian Wellington Bruno (86) who is the stand-out man. Wellington had one excellent season in T1 with Chiang Rai, but with just a single goal to his name in 2018, it appears his best days are behind him.

 

 

The Oil Millionaires have a useful looking ASEAN player, though. Ryuji Utomo (5) is an Indonesian-Japanese defender, and seems to be the resident hard man, having picked up 4 yellow cards and currently being suspended from league action for a straight red. Then again his Wikipedia page says he likes to read books, so you never know. Along with Koravit Namwiset (27), who was a Thai national team regular under Zico, and former Buriram full-back Anawin Jujeen (6), PTT have a defence that wouldn’t be at all out of place in T1.

 

 

Form

Including their 2-0 win over Ubon Kids City, PTT have won three, drawn two and lost one in their last six. Rather more interesting than their last 6 games, though, is who they face next. Co-leaders Trat FC travel to PTT Stadium on Saturday. It certainly isn’t outside the realms of possibility that key men could be rested with this clash in mind.

 

Port FC

Suarez Injured

 

Port, however, are expected to field another strong lineup. Top-scoring Sergio Suarez (5) is unfortunately unavailable having picked up a knock last week, but Kim Sung Hwan (8), who will miss the T1 visit of Sukhothai having picked up his eighth yellow card against Ubon, will be available for the cup tie. Looking at the surely unnecessary caution that was taken to secure victory against Thamuang, I expect that Port will field a near full-strength XI.

The search for a system that works without Suarez goes on, with the most recent attempt – sticking Nurul (31) up front – being very unconvincing indeed. Whilst Nurul’s pace does undoubtedly cause problems for the opposition, he would be of much more use out wide, while Bodin (10) looks better suited to playing through the middle. In the last round of the cup Arthit (29) started alongside Boskovic (23) up top and notched two assists, although his all-around performance didn’t impress Port’s traveling support. Option three is bringing in Adisorn (13) and pushing Kim further forward. Against a pretty mediocre looking midfield this is certainly an idea worth considering.

Whatever Jadet goes with, Port will be heavy favourites to advance to the last 16. Let’s just make sure we go in to this clash thinking that that’s the case!

 

Predicted Starting XI

 

 

 


 

As with most cup games we’re not quite sure which ones will be on TV, but you can be sure that if it’s on and you can’t make it to PAT Stadium for 19:00, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Walking on Broken Glass: Port FC 3-2 Bangkok Glass

 

“It’s a funny old game, Saint” Jimmy Greaves would opine to his co-presenter Ian St. John in almost every show of their longing running football programme “Saint & Greavsie” during the 1980s and early 90s on British TV. Saint would flash one of his trademark grins and with a light chuckle concur “Sure is Greavsie, sure is.” This classic exchange got me thinking during Port’s match with Bangkok Glass; here I am standing on the terraces of PAT Stadium in Bangkok watching a feisty and chaotic football match while thinking about obscure 80s television and another football match being played thousands of kilometres away in Russia.

 

 

Every 4 years we are blessed to experience what is essentially a second Christmas with the family bollocks replaced with glorious football, and in the midst of this the Thai football season is in full swing. So with a vibrant Port enjoying a thrilling season and England kicking off later, the pre-match atmosphere was especially enthusiastic. The news of Bodin (10) replacing the banned Boskovic (23)  greeted well and there was very little concern about our bogey team opposition who are going through an tortuous season in the relegation zone.

 

Credit: Nig Dammusig

 

Port started brightly and Pakorn (7), realising that Glass are a bottom half team this season, decided to go on the offensive and terrorise his markers from the off. In the fourth minute Suarez (5) sent over a great cross and Bodin forced a sharp save from Narit (1). Glass resorted to some crunching tackles to break up our play and cling onto the game but it was only a matter of time until the next chance. Kim (8), much better in an advanced role, dinked the ball wide to Kevin (97) and forced Narit to come off his line. Kevin expertly squared the ball to Nurul (31) but his shot was not fierce enough and Glass captain Matt Smith (4) calmly headed to ball back to Narit. A lucky escape.

Then confusion reigned, with the referee using VAR to award Port a penalty for handball off a Pakorn freekick. Chalermsak (3) was the culprit, with his arm raised to around head when he made the block. He saw yellow, but Rochela (22) stepped up and crashed the spot kick against the post. Port, to their credit, didn’t let their heads drop and continued to work hard. Their tenacity was rewarded in the 26th minute. Bodin, receiving the ball from Kevin, powered across his marker and unleashed a speculative low shot towards the bottom left hand corner. Narit got himself behind the ball but inexplicably allowed it to pass through him and into the net. Bodin respectfully didn’t break out the Fresh Prince moves against his former club, but he must have been delighted to have doubled his tally for the season!

 

 

As if the match wasn’t chaotic enough already, it then descended into farce in the final 5 minutes of the half. Nurul, played clean through on goal by Suarez, was clattered by Chalermsak, who received his second yellow and the following free kick lead to an unmarked Suarez slotting the ball into the net only for it to be unfairly ruled out for offside. Suarez, raging from this injustice, insisted the ref check with VAR but even after consulting the television and viewing a clearly onside goal he decided to stand by the linesman’s decision. Several farang fans, clearly dismayed by this and with the lure of England kicking off in 20 minutes, decided to vote with their feet and bugger off. Justice was finally served seconds later in first half injury time; Bodin seemed to have over-complicated his running into the box, but the ball broke loose and a lucky flick from Kim found Nurul, who made no mistake from a few yards out.

 

 

As is customary, your intrepid reporter missed Glass’ comeback goal at the start of the second half, too busy enjoying his halftime Leo (this season’s total currently stands at 8 goals missed). Glass moved the ball forward quickly and Ariel Rodriguez (7) took advantage of Port’s lack of concentration, making his way into the box and squaring the ball to Anon (27) who couldn’t miss from just outside the 6 yard box. These slips in concentration are something that needs to be worked on during training (as does my drinking speed) as more teams are becoming aware of how fragile we can be from the restart.

Port then edged closer to victory with a pearler of a free kick from Suarez over a less-than-10-yard wall into the top right hand of the goal in front of the Zone B faithful. El Mago is clearly brimming with confidence, ignoring Pakorn to sweep the ball into the net, after which the Midfield Monk had a quiet word with with captain Rochela. We can only speculate as to what as said! The second half continued to be a scrappy affair, punctuated with some hard work from Todsapol (6) and Kevin. Nurul kept making a nuisance of himself but it was obvious Bodin was struggling with his fitness, and Glass tried to take advantage of our fatigue and lack of shape. Their second goal in the 67th minute was scored with ease; Pichit (19) with time and space sent a cross into the box and new signing David Bala (10) sent a header into the bottom corner. Rattanai (17) slipped while trying to readjust his body shape but Bala’s header was too good to keep out.

Jadet sensibly sent on Dolah (4) and Arthit (19) to add some steel in the back line and up front, but Arthit wasted a glorious opportunity in the 80th minute, justifying his non-selection to the starting line up. Port continued fighting up to the final whistle and held on to the three precious points. By now the English contingent was buzzing with news that the Three Lions were 5-0 up and, with the inaugural Rat Bar Dash cancelled due to lack of facilities, we then embarked on a Wacky Races style race to The Sportsman (sponsors of this fine match report, folks). Sadly my car was more Slag Brother’s Boulder Mobile than Peter Perfect’s Turbo Terrific but we managed to make it for the final 20 minutes.

 

The author makes his way to The Sportsman

 

So what to make of Port’s performance? It was workmanlike and full of endeavour, but the goals conceded were terribly sloppy and the opposition should have been played off the park in the first half. Nevertheless, to Port’s credit they hung on and the improbable dream continues. Jadet clearly favours skill over power but in the second half several of our team were suffering from fatigue and this, plus the concentration issues, needs to be addressed swiftly. Also, while VAR may be effective at the world cup finals with an elite team of officials in a TV room with multiple screens and all the technology available at their fingertips, the Thai equivalent is clearly not working and as the level of officiating is still dire I can’t see this being a success anytime soon. Anyway, let’s not worry about this and instead bask in a glory of a wonderful day of football and the joyfulness of sleep deprivation and hangovers at work.

 

Man of the Match: Kevin Deeromram

 

 

In an ugly encounter punctuated with brief moments of skill it would be unfair to give the award to the attackers, although Nurul gave the Glass defenders a torrid evening and almost nicked the award. Honourable mentions must go to Nitipong (34), Siwakorn (16) and Kim but they all faded as their legs became leaden. Kevin’s workrate and quality has been questionable over the last few months but his performance against Glass was of the highest order and one of the main factors in getting his team over the line.

 

Glass Clowns: Port FC vs. Bangkok Glass, 24 June 2018

 

We’ve passed the half-way point in the season, so surely perennial top-halfers Glass have slid in to place in mid-table by now… Wait, what?! They’re still in 15th place, 4 points from safety? The Same Glass who left Port double glazed at Leo Stadium in March? The same Glass with a bullet-proof league record against us? Well, yes, as it turns out cracks have opened up this season, and not even a religion-inspired paint job has been able to revive their fortunes. There is of course still time for Glass to avoid relegation and all the pain it brings, but they will have to turn things around sharpish. Their window of opportunity is quickly closing.

Then there’s Port, who are still sitting pretty in third place, having put on a master-class last weekend, smashing Ratchaburi to pieces. The league table and the form table both point towards a Port victory on Sunday, but that was also the case when Port were cut to pieces by Glass back in week four, and things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to then!

 

Bangkok Glass

Players to Watch

 

The utter disaster that was Frederic Mendy is no more, and Port will be one of only a few teams to be happy to see the back of him. Mendy reserved one of his only decent performances of the season for us, pouncing on a defensive lapse and firing in a superb goal which Port would never recover from. The goals quickly dried up, though, and once Mendy had been hauled off after just 20 minutes against Chiang Rai (the hysterical laughs of the commentators as a bemused Mendy trudged off was one of the comedy moments of the season so far) it was clear his days were numbered.

Anyway, replacing Mendy is Ariel Rodriguez (7), an excellent little player who has been at Glass for a few years now. The signing of Mendy, however, saw him loaned back to Deportivo Saprissa in his native Costa Rica, where he hit a rich vein of form just before his loan spell ended. Surprisingly since his return, Rodriguez has not gone straight in to the starting XI but has come off the bench twice. Considering that both of those games finished in defeat, it would seem likely that Rodriguez is given his first T1 start of the season against Port.

 

 

The other key man in Glass’ defeat of Port was star agitator Mario Gjurovski, but he has also ended his short, unhappy stint at Leo Stadium. Cue Port fans being partly glad that the bastard can’t score against us again, but partly disappointed that we don’t get to shower him with abuse for 90 minutes. Taking on more creative responsibility, then, will be Glass’ first big-name signing of 2018 and my favourite Thai footballer Thitipan Puangchan (8). Actually, in my previous preview I had some less-than-kind words for Thitipan, who looked like he had spent most of the off-season embarking on a competitive eating career. He’s back to looking more like a sportsman now, though, although in a struggling team his performances have not quite maintained the levels his reached last season.

 

 

Probably partnering Thitipan in midfield for the first time this season will be highly rated (read: overrated) and highly paid (read: overpaid) defensive midfielder Tanaboon Kesarat (5). Poor old Tanaboon picked up a very nasty injury on his last trip to PAT Stadium at the hands, or more accurately the studs, of former Port midfielder Atthipol, and the 24 year old is just now returning to fitness. With regular defensive midfielder and semi-pro Shaggy impersonator Peeraphong Pichitchotirat (23) suspended, it would seem to be the moment for Tanaboon’s return, although facing one of the form players in the league – Sergio Suarez – will be quite a reintroduction to T1 football for the national team regular. Also having just picked up his fourth yellow card is Matt Smith’s (4) central defensive partner Piyachanok Darit (34). This is certainly the time to be playing Glass!

 

 

There are also a couple of new signings worthy of mention. If I’m feeling generous. New Brazilian striker on loan from Khon Kaen David Bala (10) quite frankly looks bang average. For T2. Either BG know something no one else does, or they were really desperate for a cheap striker. Right-winger Sarawut Masuk (14) played a key role in some of Zico’s national team squads a couple of years ago, scoring a couple of important goals against ASEAN opposition. He soon fell out of favour though, presumably when it became clear that he lacks the skill or strength to prosper against high quality opponents. Glass have signed Sarawut from Korat, where he basically did nothing for the first 16 games, then scored twice in the final game of the first leg and secured a transfer. I told you I was feeling generous.

Usual suspects Daniel Toti (20) and Captain Matt Smith (4) need no introduction after their excellent performances against Port in the past, so expect more of the same from these fellas. Glass may not be what they once were, but there’s still quality in this side…

 

 

Form

 

Is this the most underwhelming BG team I’ve seen in my time following Thai football? Quite possibly, and their form doesn’t really give them much hope either. 2 wins and 2 draws in their last 6 doesn’t sound too bad, but they’ve followed that up with 2 losses on the bounce, including a soul-destroying 1-0 defeat to Navy. Yes, Navy. How do you not score against Navy? Ask Bangkok Glass.

 

Port FC

Boskoless

 

Port will have to manage without suspended star striker Boskovic (23) for the first time this season. So, what’s the plan of attack likely to be? Well, there are a few possibilities…

  • The Straight Swap – We do have a hungry young striker waiting in the wings who will be chomping at the bit to lead the Port line on Sunday. Arthit Boonyachinda (29) has just the one goal – a match-winning header against Ubon – to his name, but the powerful forward has put in a few encouraging performances and could easily be chosen to start.
  • The False Nine – Well, Boskovic isn’t your traditional number 9 anyway, but Jadet could decide to replace him with Bodin Phala (10), and have Bodin or Suarez (5) as a kind of false nine. I’m not going to lie, that doesn’t really sounds like Jadet, does it? He could also just bring in Bodin to play in Suarez’ position and push Suarez further forward.
  • The Korean Offensive – Adisorn Daeng-rueng (13) put in another excellent performance against Ratchaburi, and the little man could yet keep his place if Jadet chooses to push Kim (8) in to the attack, with Adisorn and Siwakorn (16) manning the midfield. This was trialed against Air Force and worked well for 45 minutes, so could easily be what Jadet opts for on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Port will welcome Rochela (22) and Siwakorn back in to the team, although neither was really missed in the 4-1 win over Ratchaburi. Todsapol (6) and Dolah (4) both had excellent games, but Dolah will probably keep his place alongside El Capitan. Adisorn was excellent in place of Siwakorn, but have we ever seen the Thin White Duke dropped? No, and we’re beginning to suspect we never will!

The rest of the team picks itself, with Rattanai (17), Nitipong (34), Kevin (97), Pakorn (7), Nurul (31) and Suarez assured of their places in the team.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 6 at 18:00 on Sunday 24 June, 2018. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Magnificent: Port FC 7 (Seven) – 1 Royal Thai Navy FC

 

The Lions of Khlong Toey roared to their fourth successive victory, ruthlessly dispatching a woeful excuse of a Navy team, playing the type of football we know we are capable of, but rarely get to see. The result also keeps us at the head of the chasing pack in 3rd, standing us in good stead for the second half of the season. If Bangkok United or Buriram have a dip in form, an on-form Port could well pounce and push on up the table.

This was my first game as a paying supporter since the Chainat 10 incident when I decided to use my GCSE in Spanish to tell Rochela what I truly thought of his and the team’s performance. Since then Port have responded to the criticism with the maximum possible total of points, with certain players putting decent shifts in and not letting their heads drop once they concede. I’ve been on a brief sojourn in Europe since then so it got me wondering if I was the Jonah in the situation and maybe I should stay away from the PAT just in case?

 

 

 

Well, the first 45 minutes truly dispelled the notion that I was cursed with an assured display of attacking football that somehow only finished 3-1 at half time. Within 10 seconds Pakorn (7) was driving towards the full back, who clearly thought defending was optional, setting up Suarez (5) for a tame effort. Minutes later Suarez and Nurul (31) again conspired to miss before Rochela (22) scared everyone by almost putting the ball into his own net. Then in the ninth minute Nurul went for his customary dive when he clearly could have got a shot away. Very quickly it was becoming clear that Navy were lambs to the slaughter, with Pakorn and Suarez dancing around their midfield like they didn’t exist and Siwakorn (16) indulging in a little jogo bonito more than once.

The goals were inevitable and the first came in the 22nd minute with some good work between Nitipong (34) and Pakorn on the right flank. Pakorn’s cross was inch perfect for Suarez to nod in at the near post with the hapless Intharat (19) jumping too late. Navy then started to show a little initiative, especially Amadou (81) and Vitor Junior (10) who asked questions of our defence, leading to a few speculative long ranges efforts, the third forcing a smart tip over from Rattanai. Then came the controversy; a Pakorn free kick from deep found Rochela, who got a bullet header on target but straight at Intharat. Now, to say that Intharat was already having a bit of a stinker would be an understatement, and true to form he spilled the shot under him, but did he manage to get both or one hand on the ball on the goal line before Dolah (4) stabbed it in? TV replays suggest both hands but from my viewpoint, and only 2 Leos deep, I saw only one but you know what? Fuck ‘em; they then proceeded to throw all their toys out of their pram complaining and remonstrating to the referee and his assistant. Chief toy-thrower Intharat then had to suffer the indignity of returning to his besieged goal to receive some choice words from the Zone B crowd.

 

Dodgy ‘keeper number one

 

Port continued to pile on the pressure and were rewarded with a third goal in the 42nd minute from flat track bully Pakorn. Buzzing down the left flank, he cut inside part time full back Chalitpon (35), looked up at goal and fired a lofted shot that looped over the hapless Intharat from 20 yards out. Hold on – have I used hapless already? Ah yes, so let’s go with doomed. There was still time for Navy to pull one back to their credit; Amadou cut into the Port area and worked his way to the byline and delivered a fine cut back across goal that Quak (22) could not miss. So, halftime and with almost all the momentum with Port the half time chatter was more about how many we would score rather than if Navy could pull level.

Now your intrepid reporter was too busy discussing the finer points of the first half outside the stadium to witness the first goal of the second half and Port’s fourth. Kim (8), clearly fancying his chances of getting on the scoresheet, advanced into the box and forced a corner. Pakorn’s delivery found Nurul, whose dangerous flick on flashed across the goal and was volleyed in from inches by Boskovic (23), who up until then had shown a lot of effort but little end product. Sadly, the inept Intharat had been hauled off at half time after his less than stellar performance and was replaced by the equally underwhelming Wanlop (27) who like his predecessor was a mere bystander. Port by now knew that they could make this very ugly for Navy and adjusted their team shape accordingly; as a unit they played 10 yards further upfield, Kim and Siwakorn joining the attack at will, with Boskovic floating deep and out on the wings and Suarez operating as a false 9. The next goal was only 5 minutes away; Siwakorn robbed the ball in midfield and powered forward, releasing Suarez who strode into the box unchallenged and cut back for Boskovic to fire into the net.

Then a profound moment; my American companion with her scant football knowledge asked me if the Navy players are actually sailors or real footballers. It certainly gave me food for thought; maybe these players would be better if they jacked in their day jobs and sailed off to the high seas? Maybe the club should sign some actual sailors? Would they do a better job than this bunch? Navy are easily the poorest team I have witnessed as a relative newbie and many veteran supporters were inclined to agree. One fellow supporter described them as a team of mannequins but I think that’s doing a disservice to all hard working mannequins around the world. For me it was like watching a cemetery but the bodies hadn’t been buried yet. Ubon and Air Force Central should hang their heads in shame for being below this rabble too, and that question was probably my Navy highlight of the second half.

And there was more to come. Pakorn lost possession out wide but won the ball back with very little pressure and sent a cross to the far post which found Rochela, clearly done with his defensive duties for the day, and nodded it in past the flapping Wanlop. By now it was wave after wave of port pressure, with Bodin (10) putting in an impressive 30 minute appearance. He looks a great player and hopefully Jadet will use him more often over the coming months as he’s wasted on the bench. Pakorn, who was substituted soon after, clearly dines out on weaker teams and is a Jadet favourite but Bodin has the skill and talent to become a more complete footballer. Then came the champagne moment that will definitely be among the candidates for goal of the season. Kim, still with an eye for goal, played two one twos (two one twos FFS! You couldn’t make it up) with Suarez, bamboozling the Navy back line and bursting into the box to calmly dispatch the ball into the bottom right hand corner. It was a goal of great simplicity and beauty and a fitting way to wrap up such an exemplary performance.

 

A rare sighting of Thailand’s no1 expat football fan amongst the riff raff

 

So that was that and it was time to the return from Zone D (very nice atmosphere there in my opinion) to the sandpit for the celebrations. Of course there were drums, flares, leo (AKA Khlong Toey champagne), and a rendition of my favourite song (Muangthong hua kuay) but this time there was a bonus moshpit for those inclined to throw themselves about.

So it’s happy days right now. The recent return to form has vindicated Jadet, who has cut out the drastic tactical measures and fine-tuned the shape of the team and the positioning of individual players to get the best out of them. Kim slots into a 3 man central defence with ease and pushes the team higher up the field so Nitipong and Kevin can join the attack without having to worry about defensive duties, giving Pakorn and Nurul more options. The midfield 3 are more comfortable with their positioning, especially with Siwakorn playing a little more to the right of central midfield to allow Kim to surge forward when he feels like it and not crowd out Boskovic and Suarez. Suarez is now thriving as a false 9 and I’m sure bigger clubs will come knocking at some point, plus Boskovic (née Russell) has had a magnificent run of goals with 6 in the last 3 games. He isn’t the number 9 we were expecting and I’m always shouting at him to get into the box but if he continues this form I’ll keep schtum. So next up is a trip to Chonburi, followed but The Scum at home; 2 games we must view as winnable to keep up the chase, and you can guarantee the PAT will be rocking come derby day.

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Sergio Suarez

 

 

A lot of fine performances; Siwakorn’s industry, Pakorn’s tormenting and Bosko’s quickfire double but the man who gave Navy the most nightmares during the match and probably for the coming weeks in their sleep was Sergio Gustavo Suarez Arteaga. Relishing his role as a false 9 and understanding the positioning of his strike partner, Suarez has developed into a player of great quality in recent months, destroying Navy’s defensive set up time and time again, plus two one twos!

 

Money Can’t Buy Me Love: Port FC vs. Chiang Rai Utd, 28 April 2018

 

Port and Chiang Rai have both had stop-start campaigns so far in 2018, and both will be looking to bounce back after dismal defeats on Wednesday. Port put in their worst performance in over a year in surrendering 2-1 to relegation fodder Chainat, while The Beetles ended a streak of 4 clean sheets and 4 victories in their 4-2 loss to Prachuap. Whilst Chiang Rai have some recent form and one of the best defences in the league to give them belief, however, Port are churning out abysmal performances like they’re going out of fashion. Jadet increasingly looks like a dead man walking, and his players are showing absolutely no willingness to get him out of trouble by, you know, trying.

For the first time since I’ve been watching Port, the players were booed off the pitch by a vocal minority and it was plain to see that certain players were extremely unimpressed by what they were hearing from the stands. Well, us fans have been extremely unimpressed by what we’ve been seeing on the pitch for the last few weeks. Here’s why…

It’s not as if we’re not used to seeing abject performances by Port teams. It’s not as if we’re not used to seeing defenders who can’t defend, midfielders who can’t pass and strikers who can’t score. If players just don’t have the ability then that’s one thing, but what we’re not used to seeing and what we won’t accept is players who don’t try. Sure there have been a few lazy individuals over the years, but on Wednesday I could count the players who put in an acceptable shift on one hand, and still have a few fingers to spare. This team is the most talented assembled by Port in recent memory, but if the players don’t care enough to bother putting in the effort, then us fans would happily take hard workers like Genki and Maranhao back in place of prima donnas like Pakorn (7) and Boskovic (23). Why am I singling out Port’s two most productive players of 2018? Well, they are two of Port’s most talented players, but we just don’t care unless they look like they give a fuck. Make forward runs, track back when we lose the ball, go in to challenges like you want to win the ball and we will support you. We don’t care that much if you misplace passes, miss chances or trip over the ball. Work hard for the team, show passion and commitment and the fans will support you. It’s as simple as that. If you want to stand up in front of PAT Stadium on Saturday night with your head held high and the supportive voices of thousands of appreciative fans ringing in your ears, then earn it! If you want to jog around aimlessly for 70 minutes until you’re replaced with players who actually try like Terens (28) and Arthit (29), then prepare for more boos. Those players may be less talented, but I’d rather support them than players unwilling to do the work. Rant over.

 

Chiang Rai

Players to Watch

 

Victor Cardozo (5) is the best centre half in the league, but even that title barely does him justice. The 28 year old man-mountain has also netted 4 goals, and every time he has scored his team has won without conceding. Victor’s defence was the stingiest in the league before Wednesday’s 4-2 defeat against Prachuap, and even now have conceded just 12 goals. Chiang Rai’s three-man back line has not been set in stone, though. Victor has been joined regularly by excellent youngster Shinnapat Leeaoh (36), but the third centre back spot is anyone’s guess. Former Port defender Artit Daosawang (2) could feature, although he appears to have fallen out of favour just as Chiang Rai have got in to their stride in recent weeks. Goalkeeper Chatchai Budprom (1) is also one of the better stoppers in T1.

 

Victor and Shinnaphat

 

Experienced South Korean former international Lee Yong-Rae (8) and the diminutive but solid Thai 23 year old Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul (6) offer the back three excellent protection, regularly displaying the positional discipline that T1 midfielders (and Port midfielders particularly) so often seem to lack. Built on that strong foundation, though, is one of the poorest forward lines in the league.

 

Lee and Phitiwat

 

Cleiton Silva (23) is one of the finest foreign players to grace Thailand’s top tier, but his return to his old stomping ground has not gone to plan. Cleiton has just 3 goals and 2 assists to his name in 2018, and chances that the Brazilian would have dispatched without a moment’s thought a couple of seasons ago are all of a sudden going begging. The ability is there, there’s no doubt about that, but the confidence that propelled him to over 100 T1 goals is nowhere to be found. In other words, he’s Chiang Rai’s Boskovic.

Of Cleiton’s usual partners in crime, Bajram Nebihi (7) is unavailable as he is on loan from Port, so the responsibility for supplying the chances falls mostly on talented young winger Sivakorn Tiatrakul (10). Sivakorn is one of those wingers who insists on playing on the wrong wing (he’s left footed but operates almost exclusively on the right), and whilst he has a lot of talent, his decision making and final ball have, for the most part, let him down in 2018. He has a goal and an assist, but in the advanced role he plays that’s just not enough. The same can also be said of Chaiyawat Buran (18) who has buckets of pace but the touch of a drunk Carlton Palmer.

 

Cleiton and Sivakorn

 

Form

 

Chiang Rai’s last 6 games have seen a run of 4 victorious clean sheets sandwiched between 2 absolute stinkers. After losing 2-1 to Chainat, Chiang Rai bested Bangkok Utd (1-0), Pattaya (1-0), Air Force (2-0) and Buriram (1-0) before slipping to a shock 4-2 loss in Prachuap. Their form is still a darn sight better than Port’s though.

 

Port FC

What’s Less Than a Thread?

 

I said in my Prachuap preview that Jadet was hanging by a thread. Well, I will be somewhat surprised if that thread hasn’t snapped under the weight of Jadet’s laughable decisions by Saturday. I’m sorry, but who the fuck brings on Tana (11), who has been back with the squad for just a couple of weeks, whilst the likes of Bodin (10) and Terens are sat on the bench? A man who is crying out to be giving his marching orders, that’s who.

On Saturday Jadet will be without Suarez (5), unless he recovers from injury sooner than expected, and Siwakorn (16), who picked up his fourth yellow card against Chainat. Jadet will probably take the negative approach by replacing him with defensive midfielder Athibordee (35). Another option is to bring in Bodin (10), but if I know Jadet than just means that he will be shifted to the left and Nurul (31) to the right, while Pakorn (7) puts in an even more ineffectual performance than usual through the middle.

Sorry if I seem pessimistic. Watching 90 minutes of the garbage I was exposed to on Wednesday will have that effect! What would I do? Wholesale changes to the starting lineup, with Siwakorn (16) Pakorn (7), Nurul (31) Boskovic (23) and Todsapol (6) making way for Chaowala (57), Terens (28), Bodin (10), Arthit (29) and either Dolah (4) or Worawut (24). New blood like Port B’s best performer Chaowala is necessary to shake things up, and I would probably include Partchya (56) and Chanayut (99) on the bench for good measure. Buriram gave a debut to a 15 year old in their victory on Wednesday, so don’t tell me that one of Thailand’s top 5 youngsters is too raw to be given a chance. Has the thought even crossed Jadet’s mind? Has it fuck.

 

Suggested Lineup

 

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True 4U at 19:00 on Saturday 28 April, 2018. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

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